According to psychologists, helping others also causes the brain to release hormones and protein-like molecules, known as neuropeptides, that lower stress and anxiety levels. So, in other worlds, doing good is good for you too.
It might be Friday 13th but today also marks World Kindness Day and RN, it couldn’t be more relevant.
The last few months have proved that acts of kindness, no matter how big or small, can go a long way. The pandemic brought out a community spirit many of us had no idea was really there. People checked on neighbours, dropped off food packages on the doorsteps of those most in need, others volunteered at food banks, ran free online kids classes, cooked meals to those on the frontline – the list goes on.
In an incredibly uncertain time, these acts had a huge impact on others and we hope everyday acts of kindness will long continue. It’s even the theme for this year’s John Lewis Christmas Advert.
To celebrate World Kindness Day, have put together some suggestions of things you can do a spread a bit of love today and beyond.
Organise a weekly food bank drop with your neighbours
Set up a Whatsapp group with your road and arrange for your neighbours to do a weekly food and essentials drop off at your house so you can do a regular delivery for your local food bank. Not sure where to start? The Trussell Trust runs a network of food banks across the UK and the website has all the information you need on how to get involved, from how to volunteer to accessing food bank vouchers for someone in need.
Donate your old coats
Having a wardrobe clear-out? Donate your spare coats to help homeless people, refugees and children living in poverty to keep warm this winter. The Human Appeal have donation points in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leicester, while in London the initiative is run by Hands On’s Wrap Up London appeal.
Write to those in need
The initiative Write On Campaign has lots of ways you can write and mail letters to people all over the world, whether that’s the elderly, those who are battling life-threatening illness, or young girls in need of encouragement and support.
Start your own Food Bank Advent Calendar
For every day in the run up to Christmas, put aside an essential item (food or toiletries) to donate to your local food bank on the 24th Dec for those in need. The Much More With Less website has all the details.
A side effect of the pandemic has been a loneliness epidemic according to Age UK, with a rise in demand for their friendship services up 88% at the peak of lockdown, and they estimate more than 850,000 older people will be alone this Christmas, with loneliness impacting people both physically and mentally. Ways you can help include keeping an eye out for older people you know, setting up a rota with friends to check in and make sure they are OK – be it weekly phone call, offering to run errands or sending regular postcards or notes to ask how they are doing and if they need help.
Funding for Age UK’s friendship services are the charity’s focus this winter so they’re encouraging those who want to get involved to create your own Age UK fundraiser, from physical challenges to virtual supper clubs or simply donate to their Christmas appeal.
Give the gift of essential hygiene
Beauty Banks was set up by beauty journalist, Sali Hughes and PR director, Jo Jones, as a means of tackling hygiene poverty. Effectively, it’s the beauty equivalent of a food bank, only with essentials like toothpaste, body wash and other toiletries. They believe, as we do, that “everybody is somebody and we all have the right to be clean.” Donate via the website.
Or, go a step further and become a Beauty Banker by kick-starting a local Beauty Bank in your area. Private Bankers can collect amongst friends and family (once lockdown lifts) and Public Bankers can offer up their businesses (cafes, shops etc) as a drop-off point for members of the public.
Ask a homeless person how you can help
With lockdown restrictions in place, the effects on those who are homelessis immense, without a safe place to self-isolate and less social interaction than usual. If you’re out on your walk and see someone sleeping rough, have a conversation with them (socially distanced, of course), even the smallest bit of support could be absolutely invaluable. With the risk of passing Covid across surfaces like cash and food, you could offer to pay it forward in local cafes, where the food and drink can be collected.